Abarth 500e Review 2023

Written by Andy Brady

heycar ratingAn electric car for petrolheads
  • 2023
  • Hot hatch
  • EV

Quick overview


  • It'll put a smile on your face
  • Better ride quality than a petrol Abarth
  • We love the bright colours on offer


  • 164-mile range won't be enough for all drivers
  • Quite an expensive little car
  • A Cupra Born or MG4 is a more practical alternative

Overall verdict on the Abarth 500e

"The Abarth 500e is a pivotal car in the world of electric vehicles. It's the first electric car we've driven that puts pure enjoyment over everything else - forget range figures, outright performance or anything else that gets talked about by people who drive Teslas; the Abarth 500e is all about pure enjoyment, and we really quite like that about it."

Abarth 500e Review 2023: side profile

Do you remember the early days of hot hatches? Back then, souped-up versions of cars like the Volkswagen Golf, Peugeot 205 and Ford Fiesta were some of the most exciting vehicles on the road. No, they may not have been as exotic as a Porsche 911, but they gave everyday cars a sense of fun - and they were within the reach of people like you and me.

Hot hatches today have peaked with anti-social hyper hatches like the Audi RS3 and Honda Civic Type R. But, as we move into the age of electric vehicles, is there still demand for hatchbacks with a sense of fun? Abarth reckons so.

Abarth is Fiat's sporting brand, now owned by megagroup Stellantis (along with Peugeot, Citroen, DS, Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Jeep and Vauxhall). It's been selling souped-up Fiat 500s for years and has developed quite a following of 'Abarthistis' - there are no fewer than 10 Abarth owners clubs in the UK, to give you a sense of passion for the brand.

So what about the Abarth 500e we're reviewing here? Well, it's essentially a warmed-up version of the Fiat 500 Electric city car. But that doesn't do it justice. We'd say it's the first 'proper' electric hot hatch - although pedants will note that it's not just a hatch. You can buy it in standard three-door hatchback form, while you can also get an Abarth 500e Convertible with a retractable soft-touch roof. Other than that, the only decision to make is whether you want the regular Abarth 500e or the Abarth 500e Turismo, which adds quite a list of desirable features (including heated seats, bigger wheels and some Alcantara interior trim) - we'd go for that.

All Abarth 500e models come with the same 42kWh battery and single electric motor as the Fiat 500 Electric, albeit with power turned up to 152PS. It's not all that impressive on paper - 0-62mph acceleration takes 7.0 seconds, while top speed is just 96mph. It has a range of up to 164 miles, which is more than a MINI Electric can manage but a fair chunk less than the regular Fiat 500 Electric.

Press the start button and a little guitar riff plays inside the car, while a speaker on the outside creates an almost embarrassingly loud burble reminiscent of a petrol Abarth. There's no denying it's all a bit naff, but it appeals to our inner child.

Out on the open road, it's clear that Abarth's engineers have taken the 'make this electric car fun to drive' task to heart. The steering is darty and enthusiastic, while it's surprisingly compliant on poor road surfaces. The best thing about it is it'll make you grin at sensible speeds - flexing the throttle in an Abarth 500e won't get you in the same amount of trouble as it would in a Tesla Model 3 Performance.

When you're not in the mood for thrashing about, you can turn the fake noise off (although you have to stop the car to do so), while the gentlest of the drive modes will hold back power and help conserve range.

We rate the interior of the latest Fiat 500 Electric highly - it feels like a significant step up compared to the (now very dated) petrol Fiat 500. Yet the Abarth 500e improves on that even further, especially in Turismo trim. We love the supportive bucket seats (although we'd like them even more if they were mounted a smidgen lower), while the meaty steering wheel adds to the Abarth's sporty vibe.

So what don't we like? Well, it's not the most versatile choice. Go for the Abarth 500e Convertible and you get a postbox boot opening, while even the regular hatch isn't that practical. If you actually need to carry people, you'd be much better looking at the Cupra Born or MG4.

Other than that, erm... the noise makes a bit of a drone at a constant 50mph, but at least you can turn it off. While the 164-mile range figure won't be enough for everyone. But as a way of bringing some guilt-free fun to your commute, the Abarth 500e is hard to beat.

heycar has 1000s of used cars for sale, including a wide range of Abarth 500e cars for sale.

The Abarth 500e might not be the quickest or most technologically complex EV, but it's an ideal runaround for those of us who aren't quite ready to grow up and drive an appliance. Provided you're not bothered about having the most practical, fastest or longest-range electric car, the Abarth 500e is a really appealing choice.

Our money would go on the Abarth 500e Turismo. Some of the exterior interior highlights (such as Alcantara trim and heated seats) are worth paying for over the regular 500e. We're not quite so keen on the Abarth 500e Convertible - it's not as practical as the hatch and enthusiasts will argue that it's not as good to drive, either (although you'd be hard-pushed to tell the difference day-to-day).

If you're looking for an electric pocket rocket, there's nothing quite like the Abarth 500e on the market. The Cupra Born is probably the nearest thing to an electric hot hatch, although it is bigger and more mature, while the MG 4 feels like it's unintentionally brilliant to drive.

The MINI Electric caters for a similar market to the Abarth 500e, although it's not quite racey enough to be called a hot hatch. You could also look at the Honda E and Peugeot e-208 - while the regular Fiat 500 Electric is also worth considering if you're not fussed about the Abarth's sporty nature.

Comfort and design: Abarth 500e interior

"The Abarth 500e's cabin feels like a significant step up compared to the brand's petrol models. It's been completely redesigned, with a much more modern feel and enough soft-touch materials to justify its high price tag."

Abarth 500e Review 2023: front seats

While there are clear similarities between the interiors of the Abarth 500e and Fiat 500 Electric, the Abarth's chunky sports seats and an array of scorpion logos mark it out as something a little special. The Abarth 500e Turismo takes that a step further, with racey Alcantara trim dotted around the cabin, while the chunky steering wheel is finished in a two-tone combination of Alcantara and leather.

The dashboard could look a little sportier (if we're being picky), but you certainly don't feel like you're driving a regular Fiat 500. We have a few minor gripes, though - mainly the position of some of the buttons, which doesn't feel entirely natural (the volume control is down between the front seats, for example, alongside the drive mode selector). And you sit awkwardly high up - you'll have to look elsewhere for a bum-on-the-ground seating position.

While there are a few flimsy plastics here and there, generally the Abarth 500e feels very well-finished. All the touch points are spot on, and we really like the Alcantara finish in Turismo models. It's certainly a more upmarket cabin than the petrol Abarth 500s, although what would you expect with a price tag nudging £40,000?

A central 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment display is fitted as standard to the Abarth 500e. This is packed with all the features you'd expect from a modern car: namely navigation, DAB radio, onboard Wi-Fi and built-in Amazon Alexa. It also has wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, allowing you to mirror apps from your phone onto the central screen.

It's pretty good to use, with fast responses and better graphics than many infotainment systems used in small cars. There are physical buttons for the climate control, although you have to tap the infotainment display to turn on heated seats (on the Abarth 500e Turismo).

There's a separate seven-inch digital instrument cluster behind the steering wheel which looks pretty smart and can be customised to show a range of displays (from navigation to what music you're currently listening to). It's perhaps a little more complicated than it needs to be - with an extensive range of menus to scroll through - but you'll soon find your favourite display and stick with it.

The Abarth 500e is best viewed as a two-seater that can occasionally carry passengers in the back when required. The rear seats are cramped and difficult to get in, but things are better for those in the front. Indeed, it feels relatively spacious for front-seat passengers, although the high seating position means taller adults will find their heads brushing the roof (especially on the Abarth 500e Turismo with its fixed sunroof).

Unless you really want a soft-top roof, we'd recommend the Abarth 500e hatchback over the convertible. That's because the convertible has a really tiny boot opening which limits access; the hatch is much more practical. Both have an official boot capacity of 185 litres, which increases to 550 litres with the rear seats dropped.

The Abarth 500e measures 3673mm long, 1683mm wide (1900mm including door mirrors) and 1518mm high.

Handling and ride quality: What is the Abarth 500e like to drive?

"The Abarth 500e is a little terrior of a electric car, with nimble handling that'll put a smile on your face - and you don't need to drive like a yob to enjoy it."

Abarth 500e Review 2023: rear dynamic

The electric model Abarth 500e is based on an entirely different platform than the petrol models - and that brings with it a number of advantages. The wheels have been pushed out closer to the corners of the car, while the gap between them is wider. That means it feels more stable, while better front-to-rear weight distribution also improves handling.

It's a lot of fun. Abarth's engineers have been tasked with making it feel substantially different to the regular Fiat 500 Electric, and also appeal to traditional 'Abarthistis' - not an easy task. But we'd say they've succeeded. Fling the Abarth 500e into a corner and its Alcantara-trimmed steering wheel will communicate exactly what's going on with the front wheels.

Floor the Abarth 500e out of a junction in the wet and you'll notice a bit of wheelspin, while the steering wheel will tug slightly from side to side during hard acceleration. Don't be alarmed, though, as this just adds to the drama. If you want a no-fuss electric city car, stick with the regular Fiat 500 Electric.

There are three different drive modes you can flick between, namely Scorpion Track, Scorpion Street and Turismo. The Track mode is, understandably, the most aggressive - with a sharp throttle response providing maximum acceleration. We like the middle-of-the-road Street mode, with its increased regenerative braking (allowing one-pedal driving). The Turismo mode reduces power (adding an extra second to the 0-62mph time), allowing you to relax a little (and increase the chance of reaching your destination without running out of charge).

The suspension's been firmed up over the Fiat 500 Electric, although we were pleasantly surprised during our test about how compliant it is. Sure, it doesn't exactly float over broken road surfaces, but it's more bumpy-road-friendly than petrol Abarth models.

The Abarth 500e comes with an 152PS electric motor that produces 235Nm of torque. It's powerful enough to accelerate to 62mph in 7.0 seconds flat... which doesn't sound that quick by electric car standards.

But the Abarth 500e isn't trying to be a rival to a Tesla Model 3 Performance. It's more about fun than outright pace, and the way it scampers forward will definitely put a smile on your face. Abarth is keen to point out that, while it's slightly slower to 62mph than a petrol Abarth 695, it's quicker in other metrics. Accelerating from 0-31mph takes just 2.9 seconds while 25-37mph is dispatched in just 1.5 seconds (a whole second quicker than the Abarth 695).

With its small 42kWh battery pack, the Abarth 500e has an official WLTP range of just 164 miles. There are lots of electric cars that can travel further on a charge, but that should be plenty for darting around town or covering the average commute.

The real-world range will be slightly less than this, especially if you make the most of the Abarth 500e's sprightly performance. We saw a range of around 120 miles from an enthusiastic cross-country drive - which is more than we managed in a MINI Electric in similar conditions.

An advantage to most electric cars is how quiet and refined they are. But quiet and refined isn't the Abarth way. That's why a speaker is fitted underneath the Abarth 500e, creating the 'unmistakable roar of an Abarth petrol engine'.

It's certainly a talking point. When idling in traffic, there's an almost-antisocial burble from the Abarth 500e. This changes to more of a drone during acceleration. When you're in the mood for it, we do think the Abarth 500e's sound generator adds to its character - it's quite fun to razz around with this artificial soundtrack making a din.

Not everyone will like it, though, and it certainly gets a little annoying when driving at a constant speed. You can turn it off, fortunately, although the car needs to be stopped (with the handbrake on) to do so.

While the Abarth 500e might be a little electric city car, it comes with a host of safety and driver-assistance technology as standard. This includes drowsy driver detection, traffic sign information, autonomous emergency braking and vulnerable road user protection, lane keeping assist, intelligent speed assistant and emergency E-Call assist. There's a blind spot warning system fitted as standard to the Abarth 500e Turismo, too.

The Abarth 500e hasn't been crash-tested by Euro NCAP, but the regular Fiat 500 Electric was awarded four stars in 2021.

Charging times: How much does it cost to charge the Abarth 500e?

"The Abarth 500e can be charged at a rate of up to 85kW. This will top its 42kWh battery up from 0% to 80% in around 35 minutes."

Abarth 500e Review 2023: charging

While rapid chargers are useful on a longer journey, charging at home will be more convenient and more affordable. A standard 7kW home wallbox charger will take around six hours to fully charge the Abarth 500e, while a three-pin socket will take a little over 15 hours.

The cost of charging the Abarth 500e depends on where you're charging it. The most convenient public chargers cost as much as 75p per kWh, meaning an 80% charge will cost you aroudn £25. A full charge at home will cost you around £14, depending on your home electricity tariff.

The Abarth 500e is too new for any reliability issues to come to light. On the plus side, electric cars are generally simpler and therefore more reliable than their petrol counterparts - there are very few mechanical parts to go wrong in a 500e.

Abarth 500e insurance groups range from 23 to 27, with the convertible models costing the most to insure. As a relatively sporty electric car, insurance costs might be high - so do your research on insurance quotes first, particularly if you're a young or inexperienced driver.

At the moment, you won't pay any road tax on most Abarth 500e models. This incentive won't last forever, though - EVs are set to be taxed alongside petrol and diesel cars from 2025.

How much should you be paying for a used Abarth 500e?

"If you're looking for a cheap electric car, there are better options than the Abarth 500e. Its £34,000 plus start price is certainly bold... although it's pitched as a premium product, and there's nothing else on the market quite like it."

Abarth 500e Review 2023: front dynamic

From launch, the regular Abarth 500e is priced at £34,195 while the Abarth 500e Convertible is £37,195. The Abarth 500e Turismo is £38,195 while the Abarth 500e Convertible Turismo is £41,195. The only options available are the paint colours - with premium hues pitched at an extra £600.

You can pick up a Cupra Born for similar cash to the Abarth 500e - and that's a much more grown-up, useable electric car that's also brilliant to drive. And for those on a budget, the MG4 represents excellent value for money while being surprisingly entertaining.

There are two core Abarth 500e models: the regular 500e, and the Abarth 500e Turismo.

Standard equipment on the Abarth 500e includes 17-inch alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, climate control, an electrically operated soft top (on the convertible), keyless start, LED headlights, dark tinted rear windows and cruise control. The 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, DAB radio and wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto is also standard, along with a seven-inch digital instrument cluster.

The Abarth 500e Turismo adds 18-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels, an Alcantara dashboard, Alcantara sports seats and an Alcantara/leather steering wheel. The Abarth 500e Turismo also comes with a 360-degree camera, fixed glass roof (on hatchback models), passive entry and keyless go, auto high/low beam, front heated seats, heated door mirrors, a heated windscreen, wireless phone charging and a central armrest with closed console.

Ask the heycar experts: common questions

The Abarth 500e accelerates from 0-62mph in 7.0 seconds flat - that's 2.0 seconds quicker than a Fiat 500 Electric. It has a top speed of 96mph.
The Abarth 500e has an official WLTP range of 164 miles. It'll be slightly less than this in the real world - and quite a significant drop compared to the Fiat 500 Electric's 199-mile range.
From its launch in 2023, the Abarth 500e is priced from £34,195 while the Abarth 500e Cabrio starts from £37,195. The Abarth 500e Turismo has a price tag of £38,195 while the range tops out with the £41,195 Abarth 500e Turismo Cabrio.

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